If I were to pick one restaurant that encapsulates my entire experience as a college student in Liberty, it would have to be the Corner Cafe on Flintlock Rd. From my first move-in day four years ago to my very last one this year as a senior, I have been frequenting this restaurant throughout each school year.
Admittedly my taste is rather simple, and I have ordered the same thing about 75 percent of the time, but I can say without a doubt that this restaurant has arguably the best chicken fried steak in the wide surrounding area.
According to Corner Cafe’s website, “there had always been a small restaurant on the ‘corner’ in Riverside, Missouri, but before 1983 it changed names and hands several times.”
People in the surrounding area wanted the restaurant to return to the old-style cafe it had once been in the 1950s – called Reese’s Cafe – and Ed and Kathi Rule decided to grant that wish when they bought the restaurant May 15, 1983. They renovated and opened a 40-seat cafe that served lunch and breakfast Monday through Friday, and Corner Cafe was born. Daily Specials were written on the front windows and chalkboards, the Riverside Liars Club took up a large table at the front as a frequent meeting destination, and soon there became a need for expansion as locals steadily poured in.
It started with adding weekend hours, then dinner selections and finally two renovations that doubled the seating in the venue. The first establishment had already lasted more than fifty years as a restaurant and much of the decor consisted of pictures and drawings from customers strung across the walls. This was all taken into consideration when deciding where and how to build the new Corner Cafe located here in Liberty and the final destination located in Independence – all of which are currently being overseen by Ed and Kathi’s son, Jason Rule. When designing the new locations, they wanted to invite new customers in while also making sure not to alienate the old ones. The new Corner Cafes opened Dec. 6, 1994, and built on the traditions of the original Corner Cafe in Riverside. Pieces of the fireplace from the foundation of the old Rule family farmhouse and the windmill that came from their father’s farm were also included and are present to this day.
The atmosphere inside the restaurant is warm and home-like. There is a country feel, amplified by a plethora of rooster decorations and wooden furniture. The booths are cozy yet also roomy enough to fit a large group or family. The tables are comfortable, and the establishment is very clean and well kept, especially in the midst of COVID-19.
When I visited last, every employee wore a mask and gloves, and everything felt clean and sanitized. There was social distancing set in place to keep groups six feet apart and overall I had a pleasant experience regardless of the added health precautions. I have never heard a complaint about the food or service from anyone who has ever accompanied me to eat at Corner Cafe, and there have been many. The servers are always pleasant and friendly, and usually engaging, which helps create an inviting atmosphere to sit and enjoy a meal in. Service is prompt with beverage refills, and I have never experienced an above-average wait time for my food.
The menu is mostly home-style food. Main dishes include chicken fried steak, fried chicken and pork chops, and side include home-made mashed potatoes, home-made coleslaw and fried okra. There are burgers, sandwiches and soups to choose from and different specials each day – for example, on Wednesdays they serve burrito and taco platters, and on Thursdays the special is spaghetti and meatballs.
The rolls are large, soft and perfect to spread some whipped butter or apple jam on. There are also maple-pecan and cinnamon rolls that are easy to take home and heat up later. Arguably the best part of the meal is dessert, and there is a wide selection of desserts from the in-house bakery. The selection ranges from housemade pies and cobblers to the famous Missouri Mudslide – consisting of a decadent fudge-filled chocolate brownie with ice cream, caramel, pecans and whipped cream.
The price for one person to eat their fill and take home leftovers ranges from around ten to twenty dollars, which I personally think is a steal. EatKC recommended the Corner Cafe for their low prices and fast service, and I’d have to agree.
The next time you can’t pick a restaurant or are bored of the same old fast food places, take a sit down at Corner Cafe and have a relaxing time with friends or family in a place some call a home away from home. I guarantee you’ll be satisfied.